Brief Outline: News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for “Christian citizens”.
Ayupp Verification: Fake
Origin: Viral on Web and social media
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Detailed Analysis: The news of Saudi Arabia going to build churches was first published on newageislam, with a head line Saudi Arabia to Build Churches for Christian Citizens (archive here).
However the Vatican have denied of any such deals with the Saudi Arabia. The paper had originally stated that the Muslim World League, an organisation funded by the Saudi Government and which promotes Islamic teachings, had signed the deal with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue. However the report did not state whether any churches would potentially be built in Saudi Arabia itself.
The country follows a strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and it is impossible for anyone living in the country to openly practice Christianity. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians from other nations, such as the Philippines, other parts of Asia, or African countries, who are living and working in Saudi Arabia. But they must meet in private homes to worship, and risk harassment, arrest and deportation if they are caught doing so.
The number of Saudi citizens who are Christians is known only to God. As converts from Islam they are liable to execution for apostasy, and therefore most are secret believers.
The Kingdom’s administrative laws state that its constitution is the “The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (traditions)”, and the judicial system operates on a strict interpretation of sharia law, which officially carries the death penalty for any Muslim citizen who converts to Christianity. Adult males and females are both subject to the death penalty for apostasy from Islam under the Sunni Hanbali form of sharia law practised in Saudi Arabia.
So, if the deal had really been, as reported, that Saudi Arabia would allow church buildings for “Christian citizens”, the question would have arisen as to whether any such Christian Saudi citizens would make themselves known.
Read the full story at barnabasfund
Claims that Saudi Arabia had agreed with the Vatican to allow the building of churches for the first time in its history were dismissed as "fake news" this week. News reports in the Egyptian press claimed on 4 May that Saudi Arabia had made a deal with the Vatican to construct churches for "Christian citizens".
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